‘Not our Abel - he is a good Catholic boy’ – says uncle of SA man linked to Thai shooting

26 January 2017 - 20:21 By Graeme Hosken And Jan Bornman
Abel Caldeira Bonito
Abel Caldeira Bonito
Image: Abel Caldeira Bonito via Facebook

The uncle of Abel Bonita Caldeira‚ who has been identified as the triggerman in the murder of a British man in Thailand‚ has been left shocked after the news broke on Thursday.

"It can't be. Not our Abel‚" his uncle‚ Jose Caldeira‚ said.

Abel has been identified as one of two suspects in the murder of British businessman Tony Kenway in the southern Thai city of Pattaya.

Caldeira and his accomplice‚ Miles Dicken Turner‚ also from the UK‚ are suspected of shooting Kenway twice in the head on Tuesday while he sat in his Porche - all of which was caught on CCTV footage.

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UK newspaper The Mirror reported that Caldeira and Turner used their IDs to rent the white motorcycle captured on CCTV being ridden by the shooter and his getaway driver.

Despite the allegations‚ Abel's uncle Jose‚ who was responsible for raising him after his father died‚ said he was incapable of doing something like that.

"He is a good Catholic boy. He has never hurt anyone in his life‚" Jose said.

"We just cannot believe what we have heard. Abel is definitely not a mobster or a hitman‚ that's for sure‚" he said.

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Jose said Caldeira's mother‚ Albertina‚ had phoned him on Thursday morning to tell him of the news.

"She had not heard from Abel in the last 10-days. He works in a bar at a resort so it’s not strange to not hear from him for a couple of weeks at a time.

"The next thing she sees on national TV that he is an internationally wanted fugitive."

Caldeira said the family were trying to figure out what was going on.

What has them worried are the death threats that they are now receiving.

"I have been threatened. Unknown people are contacting us and telling us they will come for us. Albertina is going into hiding. We are all scared‚" he said.

Jose said all they wanted was for Caldeira to contact them.

"We don't where he is or what he has got himself mixed up. People must just understand that this is not the Abel that we know."

Caldeira used to own and run the Settlers Pub in Orkney in North West and apparently sold the bar and left to join his mother and stepfather‚ Louis Traut‚ in Cambodia last year. On his Facebook page the curt message “Call me” was posted by his stepfather Traut several hours after news broke that police were searching for him in connection with Kenway’s murder.

This as Calderia’s family and friends told The Times of their shock as news broke about his alleged involvement in an execution-style shooting.

Sohandri Naude‚ 17‚ who knew Caldeira for two years and worked for him at his pub for one year said she heard about the news on Thursday but couldn't believe that he would be involved in such a crime.

"He was a person who liked peace. Whenever there was trouble at the bar‚ he would always try and solve it peacefully‚" she said.

Naude's mother‚ Nicky‚ who knew Caldeira through visiting Settlers described him as a friendly person. "He had good manners and always tried to help people. What really stood out for me was how he would always go out of his way to treat me with respect‚" Naude said.

Caldeira’s cousin‚ who asked not to be named‚ said the family was shocked by his reported involvement in the crime.

“We haven’t seen him for a few years. This takes everyone by surprise. He really is a nice kid‚ who is friendly and very social. I just can’t believe what I am hearing.”

He said Caldeira’s mother and her husband had moved to Cambodia several years ago.

“Abel moved overseas a few years before them. We were in touch on Whatsapp and on Facebook. I see from social media that he has been in Cambodia for a while so I automatically thought he was with his mom.”

A woman who knew Caldeira from Klerksdorp said she was "absolutely shocked" at the news of his involvement in the murder.

"All that I can tell you is that he really supported me when I went through a break up with my ex. He's really reliable and was really supportive when I needed it‚" the woman said.

One of Caldeira’s friends from the Milner High School in Orkney in the North West said he couldn’t believe the news.

“He was a very calm person. Always very friendly‚” said the friend who asked not to be named.

“He was the manager at one of the local pubs here [in Orkney]. I went there often. Abel was always very friendly.”

According to the blog Nickobongiorno‚ Kenway and Caldeira may have been acquaintances. The blog‚ indicates that Kenway and Caldeira recently had an “exchange” with each other where they posted cryptic memes of wolves to each other on Facebook. Kenway in a post to Caldeira said: “If you throw me to the wolves know that I will come back leading the pack“‚ to which Caldeira responded‚ “If you can’t face the wolves‚ don’t go into the forest.”

Kenway’s wife‚ according to the blog‚ told police that her husband had set up a website design company near an area called Jomtien beach.

He also allegedly ran an online football gambling website.

Caldeira’s last post on Facebook was of a wolf with the words: “Stay low key. Not everyone needs to know everything about you.”

Meanwhile‚ South African authorities say they haven’t received any request for assistance from Thai authorities.

“DIRCO is not currently aware of the case in question. We will contact the SA Embassy in Bangkok to determine if the Thai authorities alerted them of this matter‚” said department of international relations and cooperation spokesman Clayson Monyela.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said: “The person in question is not registered as wanted on the Interpol database at this time.”

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE